Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Dan's Journey to Health : August Check-in

Hi everyone! It's Dan again, Gretchen's lucky husband!

Sorry in advance, I have a lot to share, plus it's been awhile! The last time I posted, I made a few goals for the month of August. Some of them I met, some of them I didn't. I meant to meet all of them though!... time just flies by way too fast. My goals were to get a rock climbing membership, try a local table tennis club, and run twice a week.

I did buy a 3 day rock climbing pass from Groupon to try out a new gym near our house. Haven't gone yet, but I'm financially committed at this point. I found 2 table tennis clubs in the Pittsburgh area (thought there would be more), and they're both over 30 minute drive from our house, so not sure if I want to commit to that. And I ran 0 times for a total of 0 minutes and 0 miles!

So August didn't turn out the way I expected... but I'm not going to leave you empty handed. There has been some progress and achievements I'd like to share!


Exercise

Selma is not a very good trainer
I started a daily exercise routine that Gretchen designed for me. It consists of situps, pushups, planks, bridges, and some yoga stretches. I've been increasing the reps and time of the exercises throughout the month. The good news is I didn't have to change my old habits at all. I just do my exercises while I watch Netflix! :p  Gretchen will share this routine with all of you soon, and if you have back issues like I do, this will definitely help.


Diet Changes

Not sure if Gretchen told you all, but I have also been vegan for almost two months now. NEVER thought I would see the day. I was all about the bacon, hot pockets, 2% milk, turkey sandwiches, chicken wings... but not anymore! It honestly hasn't been that hard (easy to say when Gretchen meal plans. I'd still be pumping bacon grease through my veins if it weren't for her). I've tried the Whole30 diet before and to me, being vegan isn't nearly as hard. Similar to Whole30, it forces you to eat more fresh produce, which is incredibly healthy and supports local farmers. But there are also alternatives for most of your favorite foods if you can't live without it. For example: I LOVE milk. It's so freaking good. But do you know what's even better? Vanilla almond milk! No dairy, but still has a creamy taste. Plus, it's a healthy alternative for a smoothie base.

So much good food- especially the almond milk!
Veganism, if you want to try it out (and I encourage everyone to try at least a week!), can be however you want it to be. You make your own rules based on what's important to you, whether it's health reasons, ethics, or conserving Earth's resources. For me, it's a little of everything. One of the benefits of veganism that I didn't realize until I watched Cowspiracy is that the animal agriculture industry is a major contributor to deforestation and to greenhouse gasses. So if you're concerned about global warming, you have a reason to eat a vegan diet. As human population increases exponentially, so will the amount of land that needs to be cleared to raise farm animals. This means less forests and more methane produced by cows. There's only so much land on this planet and only so much methane our atmosphere can handle. I'll leave it at that... if you're interested, you can learn more from google or the documentary Cowspiracy.


Getting back to making your own rules, I personally wouldn't mind eating wild caught fish. To me, that is a more sustainable industry than the animal agriculture industry where animals take up land space and are bred for the sole purpose of ending up on your plate. I also would not swear off animal products if we're invited out to dinner by friends or family and there aren't many, if any, vegan options on the menu. If I am non-vegan once or twice a month, that's still a thousand times better than my old lifestyle. Veganism rules can get very specific. I do not follow these rules, but for example:

  • No eating fruits picked from a tree. This disturbs nature's cycle. Only eat fallen fruit.
  • No eating vegetables. This kills the entire plant, whereas a fruit tree gets to live on.
  • Shellfish are okay because they don't have a central nervous system capable of feeling pain. This one's still a big debate!
As you can see, there's no one size fits all. Do whatever aligns with your values and motivations, but you should at least give it a shot if you haven't yet. There's nothing to lose (except B12... don't forget to take your supplements!).


More achievements

Another August achievement: I got a physical exam and preventive blood work done. This is the first time I've been to the doctor since 2011. My company gives me a pretty sizable contribution to my Health Savings Account if I get the physical and blood work by the end of September every year. So if your company offers a similar incentive, you should definitely act on it! Same with 401K match. It's free money! I probably wouldn't have gone to the doctor if it wasn't for this incentive through work. Got the test results back and everything about my blood is healthy, and I wonder if this has anything to do with being vegan. I wish I had blood work done last year to compare.

I still play on my work's ice hockey team, and other than that, I run around with Selma in the backyard as much as I can. So although I'm not logging miles, I'm logging moments of pure happiness. She loves to run! She'll go into hyper modes where she'll zig zag back and forth like a cheetah is chasing her. Sometimes before bed she has too much energy and I'll just do this with her for 10 minutes and then when she comes back in, she just passes out. One of the reasons why I wanted a decent sized backyard was for her to run around, and it was worth every penny! We're thinking about getting a second dog, but it'll be a hard decision. 1) no dog can be as great as Selma. 2) Selma is protective of her house and it would be tough for her to share it. 3) it would be tough for her to share us with another dog too.


Lessons Learned

Since I'm new to being healthy, I'm going to start a Lessons Learned section at the end of each post. I think it'll be a good way to document what I've learned and to share that newfound knowledge with all of you! What do you think?


Lesson 1: Don't buy more than what you need.
I mentioned that I bought a 3 day rock climbing membership through Groupon. I could have bought a 1 month pass for twice the cost instead. Going by the numbers, the 1 month pass looks like the better deal. You could go 30 times in a month for only twice the cost! But realistically, I'm probably only going to go once a week and something will come up that will keep me from going one week. So if I got a 1 month pass, I probably would've only gone 3 times anyway... for twice the cost.

I get suckered into this type of thinking all the time. This is how I end up with bottles of Advil with 500 tablets.... because it's cheaper per tablet! But... realistically I only end up using less than 50 or 100 tablets by the time they expire in a year or two. This isn't a problem with items that you need that don't expire though. That's what I try to tell Gretchen about my bulk pack of deodarant. She thinks I'm smelly, I just think I'm being economical.


Lesson 2: Create incentives for achieving your goals.
Even though I do a "daily" exercise routine now.. it hasn't been as daily as it sounds. It's easy to forget to do it, and I probably missed 10-15 days out of the whole month. Not a good success rate! The issue is there's no consequence for not meeting my goal. Sure, you could say my poor health is a consequence, but we naturally tend to think short-term only. I need to trick myself into working towards my goals by giving myself incentives. Look how extra money from my company convinced me to go to the doctor for the first time in 5 years and agree to let them poke a large needle in my arm.

So for my daily exercises, I'm going to put a list of my exercises in a chart form and hang it on the fridge. I'll mark a star for each day I do my exercises and if I get more than 6 stars in a week, then I'll treat myself to something special (vegan ice cream!). Yes, I'm going to treat myself the way my parents did when I was 9 to get me to do chores. Whatever it takes! I'll let you know how this new system works.


Do you think we should get a second dog? Do you have a jealous pet?
What's the most distance/time you're willing to travel out of your way to participate in a weekly activity/club?
Even if you're not vegan, some of your favorite meals might be. What's your favorite for me and Gretchen to try?



Thanks and see you next time!
linking up with Amanda

30 comments:

  1. Wow, I didn't know veganism had strict rules like no vegetables! That's tough. I like what Whole 30 had to offer, but it was definitely an adjustment. Almond milk is the best. I gave up regular milk over a year ago and haven't regretted it once. In fact now, I drink the unsweetened almond milk. I'd really like to switch to more of a Mediterranean style diet. We're in the same boat with activity as our gym is 30 minutes away. I've gone once in the last month. It sucks that nothing's closer. We recently welcomed another fur member to our family. She was an unplanned surprise. My boyfriend found her in a storm drain outside of our house and fell in love with her. I was interested to see how our other dog would react because he's not necessarily jealous, but very independent and uninterested in other dogs. So far so good though. He's adjusted and the puppy loves him. I feel like yours would adjust over time too.

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    1. That's only a certain sect of vegans that say no vegetables allowed. A majority of vegans don't follow that rule. Just highlighting how crazy rules can get and there's no 1 set of rules for everyone. It can be whatever you want it to be.

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  2. Dude, you are doing great! You are making some really great lifestyle choices, and that is what is really important. We are finally really serious about getting a dog... and today we have to take Zoe to the vet because she is sick. I hope the $$ doesn't set us back too much, but you know what it is like, they are your babies.
    If you go back to my weird workouts post from last week, I mention running around with my dog as a weird workout--seriously, it is a good one!
    Keep it up, add a little at a time, and you will do great!

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    1. Thanks. I agree about the way we take care of our pets. We always get Selma the best dog food, all of the vaccinations she needs, and flea meds because you can't put a price on the joy she brings us. We want her to be around as long as possible. She really is our child. Let me know what kind of dog you get!

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  3. Loved reading your goals and new journeys you've started. I couldn't go full on vegan, but I do try to go meatless at least once a week.

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    1. Thanks! I've heard of things like Meatless Mondays. It still counts as an improvement and is healthier than most people. If you're interested in going further but still not full on vegan, maybe try 2 meatless days a week?

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  4. Congratulations on changing to such a healthy lifestyle. I can't believe this is the same boy whose favorite food was Twizzlers.

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  5. Love reading about your journey! I was very moved by Cowspiracy as well as other documentaries. I'm currently still eating occasional fish and eggs, but have cut everything else out. I love what you said about the no one size fits all thing about being vegan!

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    1. Thanks! I feel like people might avoid diets like veganism because they're afraid they won't be able to follow all the rules.. I used to be this way... but it doesn't have to be black and white. Any change is better than nothing and makes a difference. I like how you chose a diet that's right for you and not strictly per someone else's or some organization's "rules". :)

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  6. You're doing awesome! Pets are definitely great for boosting activity! My dog is short and therefore doesn't do a lot of running, but walking her 2-3 times a day is a great way to make sure I don't sit at the computer all day long. And even though it is what my parents did when I was 5, I really like the idea of that chart for my physical therapy/stretching. You would think the reward of getting stronger would be enough, but sometimes... it's not. I'm going to use that!

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    1. Thanks! Let me know if the chart helps you! I'm bad at staying self-motivated and I'm a very visual learner, so if I can physically see my progress and accomplishments, I'm hoping it will click more for me.

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  7. Hi Dan!!!! I really really really REALLY want to know what those exercises/stretches are that Gretch gave you. I KNOW I'd do them. My back really needs them.

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    1. Hi Suzy! It was great meeting you and Andrew in Vancouver! Gretchen says she'll post the workout schedule soon. Some exercises specifically target the back and others target the core. This isn't intuitive, but having a strong core helps make the back strong too. Also, it's important to keep good posture throughout the day. I'm really bad at that. For example, I'm laying on a couch right now...

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  8. Wow! I'm super impressed with the Veganism! I never think I have enough self-control to stick with it but maybe I should watch that documentary to motivate me. You're doing great! I'm so impressed with all of your changes, you should be proud!

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    1. Thanks! I never thought I'd have enough self control either.. but once I hadn't eaten meat or dairy for awhile, I didn't really have a desire to start again. I think the first step is the hardest part. Documentaries are definitely motivating and not just for diets. Gretchen and I will watch Spirit of the Marathon II before big races.

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  9. Congrats on all the healthy changes you've made in your life. I'm inspired and really want to try being vegan for a week just to see how I feel.

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    1. Thanks! You should definitely give it a shot! If you're feeling it's not for you after a week, I would advise easing back into your original diet. 1) The non-vegan foods won't hit you all at once and won't make you sick (cheese will make Gretchen sick now since she's been vegan) and 2) maybe you'll find a middle ground that works for you.

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  10. i definitely vote for a second dog! i have 3 cats though so i am all about multiple pets. i had 1 dog at home for the longest time and then my brother brought home a puppy he found and my dog was like 75 times happier, plus somehow also more calm (she's a golden retriever and she was freaking insane-but lovable! before we got the other dog). the only thing i'm worried about is that zeus (the second dog) will be very very upset and lonely when pacey (my baby) dies.. i hate to think of that, but she's over 10 now. still got a few years hopefully, but zeus has way more, he's only like 5.
    anyway! way to bring it down. i always vote more pets. i'd get a 4th cat if KC let me!
    i am not a vegan, but as with anything, i don't think it has to be all or nothing to be beneficial. i mean sure, lots of people are vegan for reasons that very well should be all or nothing, but i would rather eat less meat and sometimes eat meat vs eat meat all the time because it's not 'worth it' if i'm not doing 100%, you know?

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    1. I know exactly what you mean! And I think that's why some people are afraid to give it a shot or make any amount of change.. because they don't think they'll be able to follow "the rules" when really they can make their own version of rules and still make a difference.

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  11. Hearing you talk about being vegan was really interesting! I have several vegan friends here and sometimes I really do think their diet is way healthier than anything I eat! I'm not sure I could totally give up meat or dairy, but I really think it's a healthy move, and something worth looking into!

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    1. You don't have to completely give it up if you're interested in making a change to your diet. You could try being vegan on 2 days of the week or something small to start. Any amount of change will benefit your health and the environment.

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  12. I loved this post! So fun hearing from Dan. I haven't seen Cowspiracy but definitely want to check it out. I highly recommend the Forks Over Knives documentary - it sounds like Dan would like it too! We'll all have to get together for a vegan dinner soon :)

    Sarah
    www.thesurznickcommonroom.com

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    1. Thanks! And I'll have to check that documentary out! Yes to vegan dinner!

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  13. My husband loves table tennis. If it would not be too much trouble could you list the local clubs? We live in Pgh too!

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    1. There's one in Oakland and one in South park.
      http://pittsburghtabletennis.com/

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  14. Dan you are doing amazing! You have more motivation than I do by far, and that is so cool that you are doing vegan. I love how you jumped in whole heartedly to it.

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    1. Thanks! I have a good support anchor at home. None of this would be possible without her.

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  15. I'm officially following this now! I am a 3 year strong vegan for ethical reasons and fully support you Dan!!! I love peanut noodles, so if you haven't had those, I highly recommend them!

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    1. Thanks! Congrats on 3 years! Hopefully I'll be able to claim that someday. I actually don't like peanut noodles (not sure why.. the flavors clash for me I guess) but Gretchen likes them. Thanks for the suggestion!

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